Whether you realise it or not, every brand is a story… your story… It doesn’t matter whether it’s your corporate identity, or the identity of a range of your products. Every brand has its own story. And how you tell that story will determine whether your brand reaches out to your intended audience or not.
Once Upon A Time…
Every business, every product, and every service, they all have a unique identity. And what sets you apart from your peers and competitors is your identity… more accurately, your brand story. It doesn’t matter whether it’s the history of how your business started, or even something fictional that relates to your identity. What really matters is that your story is interesting enough to attract and retain your audience’s attention. After all, customers don’t literary buy your “product”, they buy your brand… your promise…
Let’s take a look at an example, say the “product” that we’re trying to sell is sugar. Specifically, plain, simple, refined, cane sugar. It also goes by other names as well, like “cane sugar”, “white sugar”, “granulated sugar”, “table sugar”, or simply just “sugar”. Chemically, it’s known as “sucrose”, a disaccharide of glucose and fructose.
But outside of the chemistry laboratory, sugar is also a commonly available commodity. And by that, we mean that it’s traded the whole world over, easily obtainable just about anywhere. In fact, certain countries actually enforce controlled price on sugar, hence limiting the profit margin for the trader. This in turn makes it highly unattractive as a commercial product.
So how can you make it more attractive as a retail product, and maybe even sell it at a higher profit than allowable by law? The answer is actually rather simple. If you’re selling a branded “sweetener”, you’re no longer competing with others who are literary selling sugar as a commodity. Let’s take a look at the example below :-
(1) Selling Sugar As A Commodity
Selling sugar as a commodity, you’re literary being controlled by the market forces, as well as any government enforced laws. Everybody knows exactly what it is that you’re selling, which makes it literally sell itself. However, supply and demand comes into play, and you’ll have no control on the retail price that you can sell it at. This is a typical low-margin, high-volume business. And whenever this factor comes into the equation, then all the incidental costs (logistics, warehousing, etc.) will make a pretty big dent to your bottomline.
But how can you turn something that’s so plain and common into something that’s unique, and even desirable? How can you magically transform “sugar” into something exotic?… Well, it turns out that you can actually do just that, and in the process, change whole outlook of a commodity into a unique, specialised, and branded product.
(2) Selling Sugar As A Branded Sweetener
Now, instead of calling it “sugar”, you can actually describe it as a “natural sweetener”. You can also thrown in a plethora of adjectives, like calling it “plant-based”, “vegetarian-friendly”, even “vegan-friendly” (if you play your cards right). Then there’s also the eco-friendly description that it’s “all-natural”, or “naturally derived”, and having a harvesting process that’s “ecologically responsible”.
Of course, all these big-words mean nothing, but it sure makes it sound important.
So what’s the big secret?… What exactly is the “natural sweetener” made of anyway?… Would you believe sugar?… Well, if you really want to be technically correct, and still differentiate your product from the regular sugar, you could always make it out of 99.9% sucrose, and 0.1% of non-nutritive flow-enhancers. The flow-enhancers don’t really contribute to the nutrition, nor change the taste of the product. All it does is to make the granules flow more steadily.
So What’s Your Story?…
What makes your product stand head and shoulders above the rest of your competitors isn’t about how similar you are when compared to the other offerings in the market. Instead, it should be how different you are from them. With a commodity, there’s literary nothing interesting to describe about them. But with a unique and propriety product, most people would be curious about it, and are more than willing to hear you tell your story. So go ahead and tell your story.
Perhaps it’s your company’s pledge to be ecologically responsible, and to leave the world a better place than you found it. Maybe you’re keen to introduce healthier (hmm?…) alternatives to the regular commodity the world is used to consuming. Whatever your story is, it’s up to you to tell it. It’s the perfect opportunity to blow your own trumpet, and the whole world will simply absorb whatever you tell them.
Every Story Needs A Hero And A Villain
Your brand doesn’t exist in solitary. It lives in a realistic world, populated with lot’s of other interesting characters (i.e. brands). So before you go on telling just how good your brand is, you must first justify its existence.
Just like how a good action movie always starts by telling how the populous get threatened by forces of evil. And the face of this evil, the villain, is the main antagonist of the movie’s storyline.
Likewise, your potential customers live in a world where they have an existing “problem”, something that needs to be rectified. They can either suffer in silence, or they can seek to rid themselves of this “problem”. And the answer that they seek is where your brand comes into the picture.
Just like in the movies, a hero shall rise from within the crowd. A hero that shall fight for the justice of the oppressed populous. A hero that shall defend the people, and fight the evil villain.
Hence your brand shall be the protagonist, the hero that the emerge to save the day. Tell your story in such a way that your hero, your brand, is one that emerged locally. A local character, the regular guy next-door is always more relatable than a foreign hero. They may have good intentions, but the people will always trust a homegrown resistance fighter more than they would an invading foreign army. Not even if that foreign army is here to “liberate” your homeland from the villainous grip of the evil empire…
Time To Put All The Characters Of Your Story Into Context
You’ve got all your characters, and you’ve got the storyline background worked out. So now it’s time to put them all together, and make your story as interesting and exciting as possible.
Start by telling how much your potential customers have “suffered” with their “problems”. Show them how tolerating with this “problem” has taken a toll on the quality of their lives. It could cost them time, money, or even extra effort just to work around their “problem”.
Then introduce your hero, your brand, and how you have suffered together with them. Show them that you understand exactly how they’re feeling, living under similar oppressed conditions with them. And then show them how your hero developed itself, and found the motivation, or special powers, to help fight against the common enemy, the villain. But most importantly, show them that you’re willing to share this new-found superpower, this special skill with them. Show them that you’re committed to help elevate them out of their problems too.
And They Lived Happily Ever After…
Every story deserves a happy ending. And your brand story is no exception. But take note that happy endings isn’t all about you. It’s about your customers, both existing and potential. Show them that you’re ready, willing and to help them solve their problems. Share the happiness all around.